Big Risks and Revolutions


In Fortune magazine’s November 22, 2010, edition author Andy Greenberg tells the story of Pumpkin Inc. An unusual firm based in San Francisco and founded by Stanford professor Andrew Kalman, Pumpkin Inc. produces components for 2-pound, 4-inch-tall “personal satellites” ready to be launched into orbit around Earth. For about $7,500 you can buy your own Rubik’s cube-sized unmanned spacecraft that can circle the globe 400 miles high. But before you get your hopes set on a cool new Christmas gift, plan to spend tens of thousands of dollars more to rent space on a NASA rocket. Most Pumpkin Inc. customers are universities and observatories.

Interesting as this innovation is, what drew my attention was what the article had to say about the relatively small size of the company and product and their disproportionately large potential for impact. Noting that big companies are steering clear of nanosatellites because the profits look minute by comparison, Kalman says that “there’s an opportunity for someone like us to try to pull off something this risky.”

The article concludes (and here’s what grabbed my eye), “Big risks – and revolutions – are sometimes best approached by the very small.”

Regents Academy is a small school in a small town in a small corner of East Texas. By comparison, our student population is tiny, and our funding base is miniscule. In a society mesmerized by newness and technological whizbangery, founding a school built on a centuries-old method of education resting on the premise that if something is old and proven, it ought not be ignored – this is risky. Dozens of families have ventured the education of their children – their greatest responsibility under God – by hitching their wagon to the success of our school.
But “big risks – and revolutions – are sometimes best approached by the very small.”

Consider that Gideon needed not a large army but the right army. Remember the small band of outcasts and misfits that gathered around David, who later led an army. And consider that the Lord Jesus Himself turned the world upside down through just 12 men, people who by all accounts were just like you and me. The history of the Christian church continues God’s story of the amazing, revolutionizing force, not of the impressive, but of the small and the outsider.

My point is not that we should glory in our smallness – as if there is virtue in intentionally situating ourselves as outcasts who must remain itty-bitty. That will guarantee our own marginalization. No, my point is that we need to see the unique position that God has providentially placed us in and how that unique position situates us for having a disproportionate impact. Can the large public school down the road accomplish what we can accomplish? Just think for a moment about the impact our school can have on one young life, and then think about the huge effect that impact has down the line as that student’s transformation influences others. It’s stunning if you stop and think about the great power of the right impact being made at the right place at the right time. You don’t have to be big to do that, and in fact being one of the big boys might just cause you to miss an opportunity that only a company like Pumpkin Inc. or a school like Regents could seize.

Our school is daring to be part of something revolutionary: we are educating children as image bearers of the Triune God who are being uniquely equipped to lead lives of service to Him and their neighbors. Our school is less than a decade old, a mere tick of the divine clock. We remain a small, young school. The revolutionary results of our efforts remain to be seen.

But of one thing I am sure: they will not be small results.

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